Pictures lead to Olympic controversy

Aug. 13, 2008 at 6:00 PM

BEIJING, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Pictures taken by members of Spain's men's and women's Olympic basketball teams have created a wave of controversy at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Both pictures show the players with fingers pressed against their temples in a squinty-eyed pre-Olympic salute to China, the country in which the games are being contested.

Pao Gasol, the starting center on Spain's men's team and a member of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, has disputed the claim that the pictures are racist.

"It was supposed to be a picture that inspired the Olympic spirit," Gasol commented after what he said were repeated requests by the picture's sponsor.

"I want to say that we have a great respect for the Orient and their peoples," said guard Jose Calderon in a message on his personal Web site. "Whoever interprets something else from the photos has taken it completely the wrong way."

Calderon plays for the Toronto Raptors.

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